Moore Lead Widens to 51–44 in Alabama

Four days before the Alabama Senate Election, Republican Roy Moore leads 51–44 over Democrat Doug Jones. Moore’s lead has grown since late November, when Change Research found him leading 49–44.

In a race full of breaking news stories, many voters report having changed their minds: 11% of respondents say their preferred candidate has changed at least once since allegations of sexual misconduct by Moore surfaced a month ago. 7% say there’s still some chance they could change their minds again. But Moore has the momentum: among those who have decided in the past week, he leads 61–22. The Republican has a much smaller 51–47 edge among those who made up their minds in November.

Moore’s recent surge comes in spite of massive media attention on his scandal: 40% of voters say they’ve heard more about the allegations in the last week than in previous weeks, and 39% say they’ve heard the same amount.

Rather, Moore’s surge seems to be driven largely by partisanship: the most common word in all respondents’ explanations of their recent decisions was “Democrat.” Many of these late voters are voting against Jones rather than for Moore. Moore leads by 39 among late deciders, but 44% of them view him unfavorably and 51% believe he has weak character and integrity. However, their feelings about Jones are even worse.

This is the fourth poll conducted in Alabama by Change Research in the past month. In three of the four polls — one conducted immediately after child sex abuse allegations were published in the Washington Post, one conducted November 26–27, and this one — Moore has led by 4 points or more. Our polling showed Doug Jones briefly ahead approximately one week after the Post stories broke — following condemnation from many prominent Republicans and calls on Moore to leave the race — but has otherwise shown a consistent Moore lead. In the past few weeks, voters who were either undecided or planning to write in a candidate have settled on either Jones or Moore — and they’ve largely decided to side with Roy Moore.

Just 2% of Moore’s voters believe the allegations are true, while 79% think they are false. But many Moore voters say they wouldn’t care either way: of those who think the allegations are false, 54% say that, even if Moore announced they were true, they would “probably” or “definitely” still vote for him. Only 21% say they would “definitely not” vote for him if he said the allegations were true.

Women are far more likely than men to believe the allegations are true: 48% think they’re true, versus 35% who think they’re false. Among men, 34% think they’re true, while 47% believe they’re false. This disparity mirrors the two genders’ difference in preferred candidate: women favor Jones by 50–45; men prefer Moore by 56–37.

Alabamians’ opinions of Moore are less than glowing. Only 39% of all voters say he has strong character and integrity, versus 51% who say he has weak character. Jones fares only slightly better: 43% believe he has strong character and integrity, 41% weak character and integrity. 48% of Alabamians rate Donald Trump’s character as strong and 45% as weak.

But Moore supporters are far more likely to believe character and integrity are less important than politicians’ stances on the issues. 11% of Moore voters say character and integrity are more important than politicians’ positions, while 37% of Jones supporters say the same. The numbers are starkest among Evangelicals: 16% of Evangelicals think character and integrity are more important than positions on issues, versus 21% of Catholics, 28% of non-Evangelical Protestants, and 25% of the non-religious.

Evangelicals stand out in another way: they are far more accepting than others of 30-something men dating teenage girls. 34% of Evangelicals say this behavior is sometimes or always acceptable. Each other religious group, as well as non-religious respondents, were tied at 18% on this measure.

In this poll, we also re-surveyed 497 voters who had previously completed a Change Research poll in November. Our findings are reflective of the numbers in our four polls, showing only modest movement toward Moore: 28 voters, or 6%, changed their votes over this period. Moore gained a net 8 votes, Jones gained 3, and write-in candidates lost a net 6 votes.

13% of the re-surveyed voters have changed their mind about the veracity of the allegations against Moore. However, there is no clear trend in their movement: 23 respondents now believe the allegations who did not previously believe them or were unsure; 24 now believe they’re false who had thought they were true or were not sure. Another 11 who thought they were false are now unsure, and 6 who thought they were true are currently unsure.

The first important vote for the next Senator from Alabama may be on the Republican tax overhaul. Alabama voters are evenly split on the bill that passed the Senate last week, with 42% approving (14% strongly) and 42% disapproving (30% strongly). But while 44% of voters think the bill helps the rich more than the middle class, only 12% think it helps the middle class more. And though Moore supporters are broadly in favor of the bill, 21% of them have no opinion of it — more than twice the number of Jones supporters without an opinion.

Polling was conducted December 5–7, using Change Research’s patent pending Bias Correct technology. The sample consisted of 2,443 registered Alabama voters (self-reported). Post stratification was done on age, gender, ethnicity, education, and self-reported 2016 Presidential vote, with additional weighting based on predicted likelihood of voting in this election. Margin of error as traditionally calculated is 2% (We don’t love that statistic and think it is not the right way to think about polling error.)

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